- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Weinstein Co.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a comedy called “Fanboys” was made. Okay, so the year was actually 2006, and it was shot in New Mexico, but that doesn’t change the fact that it seems like forever since the Kyle Newman-directed film was scheduled for release. The two-year delay is all thanks to Harvey “Scissorhands” Weinstein, the former Miramax head who wrestled control of “Fanboys” away from Newman after he deemed a cancer subplot too depressing. From there, he then recut the film and ordered reshoots (some of which included his own rewrites) under the helm of hack director extraordinaire Steven Brill.
As was probably to be expected, a legion of diehard “Star Wars” fanboys revolted online with a campaign boycotting any movie produced by the newly annointed Darth Weinstein. It didn’t make nearly as big of an impact as they hoped, but in the end, Newman won the battle and his (mostly) original cut of the movie was finally released in theaters. Whether or not all the hassle was worth it is debatable, but if you consider yourself a true “Star Wars” fanatic, there’s a pretty good chance that “Fanboys” will hit really close to home.
The year is 1998, and with six months to go until the highly-anticipated release of “Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” the “Star Wars” hype machine has kicked into overdrive. For longtime fans Linus (Chris Marquette), Eric (Sam Worthington), Hutch (Dan Fogler) and Windows (Jay Baruchel), the movie can’t come soon enough. They’ve been planning a break-in at Skywalker Ranch since they were six, and when Linus is diagnosed with cancer and given only a few months to live, they embark on a cross-country trip with one mission: break into George Lucas HQ and steal a print of the film.
For a cast of young up-and-comers, the four guys are all solid in their respective roles. Baruchel and Folger are easily the funniest of the bunch, but the other two are more integral to the story; namely Marquette, whose cancer-ridden Linus serves as the main motivation behind the trip. How Weinstein ever imagined the movie would work without this key subplot is beyond me, but he’s also the same guy who thought that including the song “Kung Fu Fighting” in “Shaolin Soccer” was a good idea. Rounding out the main group is Kristen Bell as their tomboyish friend, and that Bell just so happens to be the ultimate fanboy dream girl is either dumb luck or a prophetic stroke of genius.
Still, for as great as the core cast is, part of the fun of “Fanboys” is all the cameos it crams in along the way. Some play themselves (William Shatner), some play other characters (Danny McBride), and some are even “Star Wars” alum (Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, Ray Park), but no one is as hilarious as Seth Rogen. Playing three different characters, Rogen’s biggest and best appearance is as a “Star Trek” fanatic who works as tour guide at James T. Kirk’s future birthplace. It doesn’t just show Rogen’s range as a comedian, but it might be the first time he’s ever acted in his life.
If there’s one gaping hole in the story, it’s that seeing an early print of a “Star Wars” movie wouldn’t be very exciting. With six months to go before its release, there’s no way any of the special effects would be complete, and so instead of watching a digital Jar Jar Binks ruin the film, you’d be stuck watching a lycra-wearing Ahmed Best instead. Fortunately, the validity of the story isn’t really important, but rather the experience that makes “Fanboys” such a blast. Loaded with plenty of references and in-jokes to geek out over (including a funny debate about Boba Fett), it’s pretty clear that the filmmakers are just as big of fans as the moviegoers they’re targeting. There are a few jabs at Jar Jar, of course, but the film never really jokes about “The Phantom Menace” until the very end when Eric wonders aloud, “What if it sucks?” Thankfully, “Fanboys” doesn't dwell too much on that point, but rather why you fell in love with Lucas' films in the first place.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Much like the movie itself, the Blu-ray edition of “Fanboys” has been a long time coming – originally scheduled to be released the same day as the DVD, only to be indefinitely cancelled at the last minute. Now that it’s finally here, however, fans may be a little disappointed to discover that it features the same underwhelming collection of bonus material as its DVD counterpart. There are a few cool extras worth checking out – including a cast and crew commentary packed with funny anecdotes about filming, a brief featurette about the many “Star Wars” references in the movie, and a series of webisodes that go behind the scenes of production – but most of them are either too short or recycle the same interviews and footage. Well, at least the film is finally in HD.